Large fires at Hanmer Springs delay travellers and cause power cuts

KEY POINTS

  • Fires have closed roads between Springs Junction and Hanmer Springs along State Highway 7
  • Power has been cut in the area
  • Frustrated drivers are stuck at either end of the Lewis Pass roadblocks
  • SH7 (The Lewis Pass Road) is closed between Springs Junction and Culverden
  • A cordon is in place on SH7 at Rotheram Rd South
  • A cordon is in place on SH7 at Flintoff - Mouse Point Rd
  • A cordon is in place at the intersection of SH7 and SH7A (Hanmer turnoff)
  • A cordon is in place at the intersection of Leslie St and River Rd (Waiau)

Large fires near the Hanmer Springs turnoff on the Lewis Pass Rd have brought traffic to a standstill.

There are reports of six uncontrolled fires near the Lewis Pass Highway north of Hanmer Springs.

The highway has been closed as a result, 10km north of Hanmer.

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Fire Shift Commander Andrew Norris said the fires aren't suspicious - they're believed to have started from sparks off a vehicle.

He says six appliances are on the way, and the fires will also be fought from the air.

Norris said the steep terrain is making the fires travel faster and more difficult for fire crews to attack.

The fire is near the turnoff on the Lewis Pass Rd.
The fire is near the turnoff on the Lewis Pass Rd.

The fires have closed roads between Springs Junction and Hanmer Springs along State Highway 47.

No detours are in place and drivers are advised not to travel. Delays are expected.

The Fire Service said it will make more helicopters available.

Police are helping with traffic control.

Image of the fire taken from a car before traffic was halted near Hanmer Springs. Photo / via Facebook
Image of the fire taken from a car before traffic was halted near Hanmer Springs. Photo / via Facebook

Power has now been cut from lines near the Lewis Pass fires.

Six fires started in close proximity, 10km north of Hanmer Springs just after midday.

Twelve appliances and four helicopters are now fighting the blazes.

The fires have jumped State Highway 7 which was closed after 1pm.

Fire Shift Commander Andrew Norris says they've had to cut power from the biggest lines in the area, to make it safer for crews and lessen damage to the cables.

First image of the fire took photographer by surprise

Christine Bonthron took this image of the beginning of the fires, top left, near Hanmer Springs. Photo / Supplied
Christine Bonthron took this image of the beginning of the fires, top left, near Hanmer Springs. Photo / Supplied

Christine Bonthron drove through the Lewis Pass earlier today.

She turned off to Hanmer Springs to stop for lunch and took photos down the valley.

It was only when she heard sirens in the township and she checked her photos that she saw smoke in the background. The photos were taken at 12.05pm.

"We're just very pleased and lucky to have got through when we did," she said.

Long lines of backed up cars and frustrated drivers are stuck at either end of the Lewis Pass roadblocks.

A groom caught out by the fires hopes they are put out before his wedding in Hanmer Springs tomorrow.

Wedding guest Daena Markow says she and around 20 other guests, as well as the groom, have been stopped at the fire cordon, unable to reach Hanmer Springs.

"Hopefully we'll be able to get through between now and when it's supposed to be at 3pm tomorrow," she said.

Police have told her to either wait it out at the cordon or back towards Culverden.

Police are warning people to avoid the following areas as a number of road closures and cordons are in place due to the scrub fire burning near the Hanmer Springs turn off on State Highway 7.

Police say the cordons are in place to "keep people safe and ensure the people and helicopters fighting the blaze can do so without obstruction".

"Please follow the instructions of police and other emergency staff if you are in these areas and avoid travelling into the wider region if at all possible," police said.


NZTA are updating all of the road closures on Twitter and here.

Vern Owen says he's booked to stay in Hanmer for two days.

He has no Plan B and is waiting for police to return in a helicopter to say if the road will re-open today.

Newstalk ZB reporter Josh Price is at the southern end of the road blocks near Culverden.

He says there's a traffic jam outside the cordon, and a large smoke cloud is growing from the fires in the north.

Canterbury rural fire crews have been sent to help fire the blazes.

However, 17 fire crews remain on site at the Port Hills fire perimeter, continuing to identify and extinguish hotspots.

The Fire Service says it will be fighting the fires at least until the evening.

Vern Owen says he's booked to stay in Hanmer for two days.

He has no Plan B and is waiting for police to return in a helicopter to say if the road will re-open today.

Newstalk ZB reporter Josh Price is at the southern end of the road blocks near Culverden.

He says there's a traffic jam outside the cordon, and a large smoke cloud is growing from the fires in the north.

Canterbury rural fire crews have been sent to help fire the blazes.

However, 17 fire crews remain on site at the Port Hills fire perimeter, continuing to identify and extinguish hotspots.

The Fire Service says it will be fighting the fires at least until the evening.

- NZ Herald

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